2x4 Office Shelving

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
As I was researching how to make a jig to cut the notches, I stumbled on Mortise and Tenon joints.
For the cabinet sides, supports, trim supports and shelves, I used 3/4" paint-grade maple plywood from Rugby in Kernersville, and 1/4" paint-grade maple plywood for the back. Cabinet grade plywood is SO much nicer than "whitewood" from the big box stores, and is actually less expensive!
Thank you very much for the post and all the pics & info. Those look great. I wish I would have seen your post before I built shelves, etc. for my daughter's closet. I bought some "blonde wood" at the big blue box. I am guessing that is their version of whitewood. Anyway, I did not realize that only 1 side had a thicker veneer. I found out when I started sanding and the other side looked like...well, you know. Afterwards, I found they sold some 3/4" maple that is supposed to have the same thicker veneer on both sides. The Blonde was $50/ sheet and the Maple is $53. Not sure how that compares to "cabinet grade plywood" or if the maple is cabinet grade.


As for my shelving in my office, I am going to stick to my 2x4 plan because I want it to be a bit more industrial looking.
 
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JimD

Jim
Senior User
I do not use pocket screws where you can see them but I have more options than it sounds like you do. I would probably do all the joints in what you included pictures of with dominos. But you can do most of these joints with threw screws which can be plugged to be much less visible. With glue, they make strong joints. Pocket screws are probably a little stronger but I find them very unattractive. But there are plugs for them too.

Ideally I would use 4x4 legs and notch the 2x4s into the 4x4 fully - 1.5 inch deep notches. You can cut the notches with a circular saw. But if you use 2x4s for legs, I probably would not notch them that deep, probably 3/4. A solid ledge to support the horizontal 2x4 is what you want.

If you use 2x4s as you plan, I would hit them with a sander with some 80 grit, at least. I used some recently to make a reloading bench for my son. I was surprised at how wavy the planning was. The legs and stretchers got painted so 80 grit cleaned it up eliminating the wavy surface along with some chipout and ink marking.

I think your need for shelving is a good excuse for a new tool. You could make much nicer shelving from 3/4 plywood with a little softwood for edging if you had a track saw. Probably save some in materials. 1/2 plywood is similar in price to 3/4 at the big box stores near me. I like Home Depot pine plywood, I think they call it "radianta" or something like that. It is made in Chile. About $40/sheet. Sometimes both sides are pretty decent. One side will be clear with a nice solid face veneer, not a paper thin one on big box hardwood plywood. I used it for the top of the reloading bench for my son and use it a lot for shop projects. I also used it for the interior of a cabinet in my great room.
 

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
So, you have a pocket hole jig, I think. Did you see the Whitney’s Handmade Open Pine book shelf on Ana White’s site? It is constructed better, will hold the weight better and she stated that you can use 2 x 4’s and the modification that will be needed seem simple.
Berta, thank you for the suggestion. I found the bookshelf and I really like it. I never thought of just using pocket holes on the plywood without any support under them. I may need to try that on this or a future project
 

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
I do not use pocket screws where you can see them but I have more options than it sounds like you do. I would probably do all the joints in what you included pictures of with dominos. But you can do most of these joints with threw screws which can be plugged to be much less visible. With glue, they make strong joints. Pocket screws are probably a little stronger but I find them very unattractive. But there are plugs for them too.
I honestly never thought about them. Dominos seem to be all the rage now. It looks like they have enough "body" to provide the support needed. That may be a heck of a lot easier than trying to cut mortise-like notches.

If you use 2x4s as you plan, I would hit them with a sander with some 80 grit, at least.
Great suggestion on the sanding. I think I can handle that, although shou sugi ban looks really awesome, but I am not on that level...yet.
 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
Berta, thank you for the suggestion. I found the bookshelf and I really like it. I never thought of just using pocket holes on the plywood without any support under them. I may need to try that on this or a future project
I believe she used 1x 12 project board
 

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
I finally made time to work on my shelves. I decided to go with my 2x4's and mortise-like notches. I tried to use some router bushings but the base did not fit my router, so I made my own jig/template for the existing router base.

The router bit arc was bigger that the arc on the corner of the 2x4's so I had to sand the corners a bit with a dremel. Each cross support goes in about 3/8".
Now I will have to sand them down, assemble them, etc.


Here is what I have so far:
 

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Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
.... go with my 2x4's and mortise-like notches. I tried to use some router bushings but the base did not fit my router, so I made my own jig/template for the existing router base.

The router bit arc was bigger that the arc on the corner of the 2x4's so I had to sand the corners a bit with a dremel. .....
And you found simple ways to address the 'issues' you faced - nicely done!

I have often found that making the template was harder than actually using it, but your template looks like it worked great. I would have never thought of a Dremel to sand out the corners, but that's not surprising since I don't have one; I do have other rotary type tools, just not a Dremel, and I still would not have thought of it.
One of the things I did not anticipate when I started to use hardwoods (oak for example) instead of soft pine was that my 'sand into submission' approach took much longer on oak. Then chisels and planes started to make more sense.

Look forward to the assembly and completion pics.
 
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ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
Thank you Henry, Bas and Jack. I had never made a template, nor used one, but to me, part of woodworking is experimenting (usually on scrap) and stretching my abilities. I realize many out here are much more advanced then I am, but I am glad they remember when they first started out. I really appreciate all the help and encouragement so far.

Next up on this project is sanding down the 2x4's. A few of them I did not notice how rough they were. I went through a good size pallet to get the ones I did. I was surprised by how bad many of them were...and at 2x their usual price. I know they are usually going to be covered by drywall and such, but when you list them as premium, I would think they would have been a better quality.

I have not made the leap to working with hardwoods...yet, but seeing the poor quality of 1 and 2 by's, I may make the leap sooner rather than later. I guess I will need to get some chisels and a plane.


Regarding the Dremel: I have had mine for years and never really used it (at least not as it was intended). I was glad to get the chance to use it on an actual project. Well I had about 80 corners to sand out and got through about 60 when I realized it was time to change the sand paper. Well here's a little advice for anyone not working in a shop with a concrete floor...you see that little screw...yea, I know you have to zoom in because it is so small. Of course I drop it in the dirt and leaves and sawdust...30 minutes later after crawling around on my hands and knees, going over the area with a magnet, I finally gave up.

1612569842287.png


So today, I go to the Big Blue Box store by my house and buy a new one...WOW!!! they made a nice little upgrade to that mandrel. This one has no screw. You just pull the head out and it releases the pressure on the middle of the sanding cylinder. Very easy to use.

1612570207092.png
 
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ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
Not sure if I am going to apply a finish to these shelves, but thought it might be a good project to learn on. The only "finish" I have ever used has been paint...latex paint or spray paint. I want to expand my horizons and am thinking about applying an actual finish. I read "Wood Finishes Explained" and am leaning towards trying some canned shellac.

What do you guys think? Is that a good choice for a 1st timer to use? Waxed or Unwaxed? Tips, tricks, suggestions, volunteers?
 

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
Just sharing a bit of progress on the shelves. It is slow going with work and life and not having a dedicated shop where I can leave my tools out. But I am making progress.

I have sanded down the 2x4's. Some of them were REALLY bad and I knocked them down with 40 grit. The majority I hit with 80 grit and then 120 grit as Jim D suggested.

01b349298dd6f63bbccce922b6f12ac4791e63b20a.jpg0138e4b194c1bb4473a175f3ce47837332cc9a0863.jpg

Here is the raw wood, then after 40, 80 & 120.
01878bd679cf0f1e1a4a33758dcc670012de49974e.jpg0179f26ed422a3efeb73d16d146d09d62553eb7ee2.jpg011373164e58feae0879f5ef8eb26132c304a4ad67.jpg01e748b87b7b710813611d042a73a6425d01cfca17.jpg

After doing that my edges/corners were a mix of rounded and squared. I decided to run them all across the router to put a slight curve on the edges.
Now I need to come up with something to sand those round edges of the 2x4's evenly. I can just grab a 120 grit sheet and sand by hand, but I was thinking I might want to mount the paper in something to be consistent.

Any suggestions?

Also regarding the finish. regardless of what I end up applying, am I understanding correctly that for Pine, I should always start with a coat of un-waxed shellac?

Thanks again for all the support and input, both here and on Facebook
 

ralitaco

Jim
Senior User
So I am still working on my shelves...been a challenge between work and weather. Anyway, I had several short pieces (6" to 18") to sand with my belt sander but did not want to clamp them directly to the table, so I came up with what I thought was a pretty good fix...

01d83d5e00382211620bfbeb8ef8d10348f002f11a.jpg 019434e69d1cf470cf39e5e0e6fb99f32f4f992a5c.jpg 0109ce6c92156e07bfe0f2c246ae68180ab4a3bc92.jpg
 

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